· Features

A postcard from... India

Our 'postcard from' series keeps your updated on key HR areas in different countries

Economic briefing

India’s economy could reach the top three by 2020. But whether it will make it or not depends on who you ask. Commonly-cited obstacles include poverty, overpopulation, environmental degradation, widespread corruption, and limited international reach. Factors in India’s favour include a long-standing tradition of democracy and stable government, a convenient location for trade, proximity to major oil exporters, a good standing internationally, a huge push on engineering education that is gradually improving in quality, and a system of R&D institutions.


India has the world’s second largest population, and because of its high birth rate this is a very young population compared with most ageing nations; approximately 65% of India’s populace is under 35.

Legal lowdown

Parmjit Singh, head of Eversheds’ India group, advises that employment law can be very complicated but is on the cusp of change. “The labour sector in India is highly diverse and segmented. Employment laws are based on the category into which an employee falls, such as managerial or workman, and there are various laws governing subjects ranging from conditions of employment and health and safety, to welfare, trade unions and disputes,” he says. “However, laws are changing as the government focuses on making them more employer-friendly to enable greater foreign investment.”


“The main differences I have found are with recruitment, reward, training and development, and employee communication and engagement,” reports Nicola Pattimore, group HR director of Equiniti. “You will typically be hiring people who are educated to degree-level, but the lead times, drop-out rates and notice periods are different to the UK. We assume a 40% drop-out rate through the end-to-end recruitment cycle.”

But Eversheds’ Singh reassures: “There is an abundance of already well-educated and competent staff in India including technicians and engineers. With more than half a million people entering the labour market every month, for employers willing to deliver training the potential is enormous.”

From the HR frontline

“The culture is different and working practices will feel very different to the UK,” says Pattimore, explaining that communication between teams of different nationalities can be complicated. “Some of the challenges we have spent significant time on are ensuring the UK and Indian teams work effectively together,” she says. “We have found you need to give very clear instructions, and have processes clearly documented as part of any knowledge transfer.”

Fact file

Area: 3,287,263 square km

Population: 1.25 billion

Average age: 27.3 years

Life expectancy: 68.1 years

Main languages: English, Hindi

Unemployment rate: 10.7%

GDP per capita: $6,200

Main industries: Agriculture, business outsourcing services, information technology services, manufacturing, software workers